At Choice Schools, we take great pride in setting up our teachers for success. A major component of that support is through professional development.
Teacher professional development is any type of effort to continue education for educators. It’s an important way for teachers to improve their skills and, in turn, boost student outcomes.
Learning can take place in formal or informal settings. Formal settings include conferences, courses, seminars, retreats and workshops. Informal opportunities for teacher professional development include independent research or investigation, peer learning initiatives or even just conversing with a colleague in the staff room.
Professional development for school staff members is provided at numerous levels: district-wide, among teachers in a given school, or even on a classroom or individual basis.
At Choice Schools, we put a lot of effort into ensuring our teachers get the professional development opportunities they need to grow and continue to be successful in their careers.
Keep reading to learn more about how we prioritize professional development at our charter schools.
Self Assessments for Growth
We believe that every teacher should be able to measure their own performance and participate in self-improvement. To do this we provide Choice teachers with assessment tools through a platform called Map Growth for accurate, actionable evidence to help inform instructional strategies regardless of how far students are above or below grade level. It also connects to the largest set of instructional content providers, giving educators flexibility in curriculum choices.
In other words, it shows teachers what to optimize, where the gaps are, and how to fill them. At Choice, we also provide additional opportunities for our teachers to learn how to read the data.
Specialized Professional Development
Across all our models, we have specialized professional development programs for our teachers, teaching assistants, Special Education teachers and leaders. We believe professional development is typically most effective when it is focused on the specific agendas of each teaching model and the needs identified by teachers.
For example, in our Scholar schools, we are working on curriculum development for urban schools, helping them grow in the lesson planning process. In our Environmental schools, we are focused on standards-based learning and essential standards. Our Montessori schools are focused on Montessori philosophy, and our Classical schools are focused on what it means to have virtuous education in a traditional classroom environment.. We also have conferences, where we bring teachers in different schools in the same teaching model together to learn from one another and build a network.
Conferences and events for each teaching model are held to combine a diverse range of thinkers together to learn from each other and contribute to the collective wisdom of their community.
We listen to how our teachers and teaching assistants want to grow, and we help them reach those goals. With about 100 special education staff, we have bi-monthly virtual meetings to discuss best practices, compliance, legal issues and any other new challenges that need to be solved.
It is important that professional development happens on a large scale so that all of our schools are growing and evolving together. For our teachers who are interested in becoming school leaders, we offer leadership training and development through our School Leadership Institute.
Group Professional Development
We strive to support our teachers in their efforts to grow as educators and leaders. In addition to the specialized professional development training for specific education models, we also bring educators from all schools together to listen to each other, network and support each other through problem-solving and growth. It’s common for our teachers to reach out to each other across schools to ask questions and seek solutions. This also extends to the work with our occupational therapists, school psychologists, speech and language pathologists, physical therapists, and social workers.
This is critical for sharing knowledge and creating a diverse community of thinkers who can uniquely problem-solve. In fact, the community aspect is a critical component of all of our professional development efforts at Choice Schools.
When our teaching staff is getting the support they need to grow as professionals, it has a direct impact on the experiences of the students. Great teacher and leader support means better support and better education for all students.
Teachers can Earn SCECH’s
SCECH’S (State Continuing Education Clock Hours) is the way teachers can renew their teaching certificates. Each academy offers more professional development than the state requires to ensure that each staff member has the level of support needed in their role. The academy applies for SCECH’s for the teachers through District Provided Professional Development schedules. This allows the teachers to focus on the learning rather than trying to locate SCECH hours elsewhere
At Choice Schools, we have a SCECH’s coordinator on staff, to support our teachers obtaining their continued education credits.
Funding for Development and Upscaling
Choice offers reimbursement to our teachers for educational opportunities. We listen to how our teachers want to grow, and we ensure they have the financial support they need to achieve those goals.
In addition, we pursue efforts to increase development and upscaling within the schools. For example, we are working on building specialized standard-based report cards for our Environmental schools. Generalized grading doesn’t account for the specific demographic of our Environmental schools and does not accurately portray students’ success. Our report system is being built to align with the vision the school has set out for its students.
We are also building a new set of proficiency scales. By doing this, we can communicate with our students the exact path to mastering these skills, which empowers them with the tools they need to succeed.
Work at a School that Supports Your Professional Development
Where do you see your career going? How do you want to grow? At Choice, we’ll listen to your needs and support initiatives to help you reach your goals. When you teach at one of our schools, you are empowered with the support system you need to have a fulfilling career.
To see what positions we have open, click here!